Azores

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Overview

The Portugese islands of the Azores, an archipelago of nine volcanic islands, rise majestically from the immense Atlantic Ocean, 1,360km (860 mi) west of continental Portugal. The scenic islands encompass beauty and adventure, with white sandy beaches, ancient vineyards, towns steeped in history, lush meadows and remarkable volcanic landscapes including geysers, hot thermal water and crater lakes.

There are parks and marine reserves to protect the unspoiled environment while the vineyards of Pico and old town Angra do Heroismo on Terceira are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Adventurous pursuits include whale watching, diving, surfing, hiking, canyoning, cycling and horse riding or take a leisurely walk and explore the stunning scenery. There are lots of festivals and events on the islands, such as the lively wine-making festival celebrated on the island of Pico in September. 

More than 24 different types of cetacean are found in the Azores, which is on the migration route of whales. Spotted dolphins, sperm whales, sei whales and baleen whales are more frequent in summer while blue whales can be seen in late winter, spring and autumn. There are resident communities of common and bottlenose dolphins and one of the most popular activities is snorkelling with dolphins. Carried out very much on the dolphins' terms, if they want to join you they will, this is an unforgettable experience. It seems the dolphins are more interactive with tourists early in the season, the best months being April, May and June. 

The Atlantic is also home to loggerhead turtles, flying fish and large predatory fish such as blue marlin, sailfish and swordfish. Scuba divers come to the Azores to see devil rays which gather from July to October and there's a wide range of sea and land birds. On the tiny island of Corvo, the stunning crater attracts many species of birds from Europe and America while the endemic Azores bullfinch occurs only on the island of Sao Miguel.

 

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Quick Facts - Azores

Travel Seasons

  • June to August - High Season. The hottest and busiest months, it can reach 79°F / 26°C. Book in advance.
  • Spring and autumn are lovely times to visit with a pleasant climate and superb scenery
  • November to March tropical storms can be expected
  • February has the lowest temperatures, it can drop to 57°F / 14°C, with windy and overcast days

General Information

  • Capital city - Ponta Delgada
    Largest and most populous island - Sao Miguel 
  • Currency - Euro (€)
  • Languages - Portuguese, English is spoken by many in the tourism industry
  • Size - 2,333 km2 (901 sq mi)
  • Population - 245,746 (2012

Health & Safety

  • Travel insurance is essential for all international travel. Click below to find out more:



  • The CDC recommends that, although there are no specified vaccinations for the Azores, check with your doctor. Hepatitis A outbreaks can occur throughout the world, sometimes in countries with low risk.
  • Make sure you check that all your routine vaccinations are up-to-date.


Tourist Information

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • World-class whale watching and swimming with dolphins
  • Plenty of activities, most available year round
  • Spectacular volcanic landscapes and natural beauty
  • Leading example of sustainable tourism
  • Two UNESCO World Heritage Sites
  • The islands are more accessible with better flight options

Cons

  • The weather can be unpredictable, particularly in the higher areas, and cloud cover is fairy common throughout the year
  • During the summer months the most popular places, such as Ponta Delgada, can get crowded

Travel Info

Arriving in the Azores

  • The main hub is Ponta Delgado Airport. There are airports on each island served by the local airline (SATA) but some have only one flight daily. 
  • International carriers connect the Azores with mainland Europe, the UK, USA and Canada.

Getting Around

  • On most islands you can hire a car, although it's worth noting that the roads can be steep and winding around the volcanic landscape.  
  • Travelling between islands and towns by boat is ideal - most towns are on the shore and have a port, harbour or marina. 

Visas 

  • Visas are not required by many nationalities, including the UK, USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and many other western nations, for stays up to one month. Passports need to be valid for at least six months on arrival. Find more visa information here >>

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